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Old Oct 05, 2011, 5:08pm   #11
feudallord
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1. I seem to lose a lot of playing what I call "straight components."
close, we call them connectors.

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I feel better about them when they're suited, but I have a desire to play them when their unsuited for one reason. Even though I've lost betting on straights more than I've won, it's the pots with 4+ people that gets me when I flop the remaining 3 components of the straights, and I end up winning a huge pot. Examples of cards are: A5, 10 8, 3 6, 3 4, etc. I was wondering if there is some rule about playing these cards, maybe its better to play them only when in position?
well, all hands are better in position. it's much easier to get paid for your made hands when you're acting last because people expect you to bet with much weaker hands there. if you're acting first and start firing off chips, people are going to figure you for strength. there's also the more obvious advantage of, if you act last, you get to see what everyone else wants to do before you act.

while a hand like T8 can be okay in position, a hand like 63 is simply junk. consider this.

a true connector like 87 can make four straights; JT987, T9876, 98765 and 87654.

a one gap connector like 86 can only make 3 straights; T9876, 98765 and 87654

a two gap connector like 85 a mere 2 straights; 98765 and 87654

and a three gap connector like 84 makes just 1 lousy straight; 87654

you also have the question of when is your straight the nut straight? a three gap never makes the nuts, in 84's only straight 98 is the nuts. a two gap makes the nuts in 1 out of 2 straights (assuming the rest of the board is bricks), a one gap makes the nuts in 2 out of 3 straights, and a connector makes the nuts in 3 out of 4 straights.

note that an exception applies when you're making straights at the top of the deck. all four of JT's possible straights are the nuts, because when it is at the bottom end in AKQJT, there is no possible higher straight. we can also note that for the same reason, AK can only make one straight, KQ can only make two, and QJ can only make three. and again down at the bottom of the deck, A2 can only make one straight which is never the nuts, 32 can only make 2 straights etc.

but straights aren't everything. with a middle connector you're only going to flop the straight about 1.3% of the time. you're going to flop an eight out straight draw about 10.5% of the time, and you'll complete that straight an additional ~31% of the time. so roughly 12% of the time you're getting past the flop with a straight on your mind, and about 4.5% of the time you're turning over a straight at the end...and that's for true connectors, the bigger the gap, the smaller this value obviously becomes.

however. you are going to flop some kind of pair/two pair/trips/quads/boat around 32.5% of the time. you're going to be thinking "okay i have a pair" about three times as often as you're going to be thinking "okay i have about a 30% chance of outdrawing my opponent and making a hand at some point here"...we really don't need to do any math to see that big cards (that flop big pairs) are obviously superior to smaller cards, even if those smaller cards have straight possibilities. even a hand as wonky as K8 crushes a hand like 54. it's about a 62%/38% favourite.


the value of pure straight and flush draw situations is all in the implied odds. lets say we're both $100 deep, the pot has $30 in it and we're on the turn with a board of Ah 7s 6c 2d. my AK is a 36:8 favourite over your 54 in this spot. if i were to bet the whole bag and move in here, calling would be a terrible mistake for you. 8/44 of the time you would win my $100 plus the $30 in the pot, but 36/44 of the time you would lose your $100, which means on average you're throwing about $60 away by calling.

but lets say instead that I only bet $10. now it's only costing you $10 to draw on your straight. if you miss it's cost you $10, if you hit then you win $40, except i have another $90 in my stack for you to try and win if you make your hand. if you miss, your $90 isn't at risk because you're going to fold, but if you hit, there's another $90 for you to try to win.

we pause and note that in terms of simple pot odds, you're being laid $40:$10 to draw on the turn, whereas you're about a 5:1 dog to make your hand. your thought process on the turn should be, "okay i have 8 outs to make my hand, and there are 46 cards that are unknown to me, which means 8 winners and 38 losers, and a ratio of 38:8 = 4.75:1 losers to winners. for every $1 that i risk to draw to my hand i have to get $4.75 from the pot and my opponent to break even. it's $10 to call, which means i have to get $47.50 from him and the pot when i hit. the pot has $30 plus his $10 in it now, which means i have to get him to call on average at least $7.50 on the river when i hit for this to break even." and in this case you would continue with, "on the river the pot will have $50 in it, he probably has an ace so he will call about a half pot bet. i'm going to get another $20-25 from him there, so my implied odds are about 6 to 6.5:1. yeah i can draw, call!"

note phrases like "probably has an ace". much of the skill in poker is being able to work out what hands your opponent can have, and how much he will be prepared to pay you off with.

this is a verbose explanation. very quickly the math becomes second nature. it's also possible you know this, i've kinda wandered off on a tangent.

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2. The same goes with suited cards. Is there a number of times you should play them? Like every 4th or 5th time is better to play suited cards then every time you see suited cards. Obviously I Get excited when I see them because of the prospect of a flush.
it's more that you should just junk the lesser suited hands and play the stronger ones (that is, the ones that can make big pairs, and to a lesser extent ones that can make straights as well as flushes). you will flop a flush roughly 0.84% of the time you see a flop with suited cards. you will flop a flush draw (not including backdoor draws) a smidgen under 11% of the time, and will complete that draw a biscuit under 35% of the time. so again, we're going to be getting past the flop thinking flush less than 12% of the time, and we're going to have a flush by the river about 4.7% of the time.

so, firstly, we have the same shit to say as we did with straights. you aren't going to be making your flushes that often. secondly, you aren't going to be making the nuts that often. a flush with KXs is only the nuts if the ace is on the board, JTs is only the nut flush when it's a straight flush. thirdly, on the occasions you do make your flush, you still have to get paid. if the board is J94 and a 7 comes on the turn, your opponent will think "well okay T8 got there, so one of the (however many) hands he could have now beats me, but my AJ still beats KJ, QJ, JT, QT etc" but if the board is Jh9h4c and the 3h comes off he's going to think "well, okay now /all/ of the flush draws he could have beat me". folk are usually much more concerned about flushes getting there than they are straights. these are all things you need to consider.

there is one other thing to take into account with these drawing hands, which is that when you flop a draw, you can put a lot of pressure on your opponents because you always have good equity. if you flop the nut flush draw, you are going to make your flush about 35% of the time. this allows you to attack on the flop and perhaps get your opponents to fold and give you the pot right there. this play is usually called "semi-bluffing"; while it is not a pure bluff, the bluff element is adding a significant amount to your profit in the hand. the final thing to consider with this, is that if you make your semibluff and your opponent doesn't fold, the pot is going to be bigger on the next street. if you make your hand, you can make a much bigger value bet than if you had just called or checked previously.

here's a simplified example to illustrate this, we'll start on the turn because the math is more straight forward that way. lets say we have a pot of $30 and we both have $200 left in our stacks. the board reads Ah 9d 8h 2c, you have K7h, my hand is unknown.

LINE 1: i bet $15. if you call, the river will complete your flush 9 times in 46. if it does, you will bet $40 into the pot of $60 and i will call about half the time.

80.4% of the time you miss and lose $15, 19.6% of the time you will hit, half the time you hit you get the $30 pot plus the $15 i put in on the turn, and half the time you get that $45 plus an additional $40 that i call off on the river. so now the math:

line 1 = (0.098*$45) + (0.098*$85) - (0.804*$15)

= $4.41 + $8.33 - $12.06

= $0.68

LINE 2: i bet $15, you raise to $55. i fold half the time. we'll keep it really simple and assume you just give up if you miss and lose that money, but if you do hit, your 2/3 pot bet is now $95 and i will still call this half the time.

this math is slightly more complex, so i will do it in stages.

a: you raise i fold
b1: you raise i call, you miss
b2i: you raise i call, you hit i fold
b2ii: you raise i call, you hit i call

a: P = 0.5, profit +$45
b1: P = 0.5 * 0.804. profit -$55
b2i: P = 0.5 * 0.196 * 0.5. profit $85
b2ii: P = 0.5 * 0.196 * 0.5. profit $180

a: P = 0.5, profit +$45
b1: P = 0.402. profit -$55
b2i: P = 0.049. profit $85
b2ii: P = 0.049. profit $180

line 2 = (0.5*$45) + (0.049*$85) + (0.049*$180) - (0.402*$55)

= $22.5 + $4.165 + $8.82 - $22.11

= $13.375

so in this case semibluffing is more profitable...obviously, you aren't going to be doing math like this during the hand, rather this is something to think about away from the table so that you can apply it in your game. as a general rule of thumb, the more likely your opponent is to fold when you play back at him (and the deeper the stacks), the better semibluffing is vs calling and drawing.

if i've said anything you don't understand, used a word you don't know or if you have any follow up questions, be my guest.

Kc
Dude, a VERY parsimonious and tight explanation for the questions I asked. It was exactly what I was looking for, I am going to keep this as a guide if you don't mind. Thank you for demonstrating to me how many straights certain cards can make. This will really make my starting hand decisions better.

Also with regards to bluffing. No it's not the deception involved, it's fear of losing. I'm afraid that if I bluff the opponent will actually have something and have me beat, so what was the point?

Last edited by feudallord; Oct 05, 2011 at 5:13pm.
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Old Oct 05, 2011, 7:46pm   #12
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Dude, a VERY parsimonious and tight explanation for the questions I asked. It was exactly what I was looking for, I am going to keep this as a guide if you don't mind.
by all means.

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Also with regards to bluffing. No it's not the deception involved, it's fear of losing. I'm afraid that if I bluff the opponent will actually have something and have me beat, so what was the point?
know fear. no fear.

bluffing shouldn't be seen as some kind of specific, special case action.

like everything else, think about the math. if the pot has $100 in it and you bet $50 on a bluff, you need him to fold exactly 1/3 of the time for your bluff to breakeven. if he will fold more often than that, the bluff is profitable, if he folds less than that, it is whatever the word that means you lose money is. so think about what hands he can have, how many of them can call? how many of them fold?

let me find an example from my db...okay, this is a LHE hand, because i play most LHE, and i only fiddled it a little bit for demonstration purposes.

here is how we got there: I openraised KTh in the small blind, the big blind reraised, i called. flop came QsJs4c. i know my opponent quite well, we have a couple of thousand hands on each other, and we have fought a fair amount in the blinds today. I decide to check and call on my draw. sometimes I am going to be aggressive here even out of position, but against this opponent (who will often play back at me light, such is our history), with that flop (which connects well with his range), the more passive option feels better...you probably don't need to worry about that level of thinking just yet, suffice to say that i check and call his bet, turn is 3s. i check and call again, river is 7s. i bet.

firstly, on the river, the pot is 6 big bets. his preflop threebetting range BB vs SB is around 12%, which is going to look something like AA-77, AKs-A6s, AKo-A9o, KQs-KJs and KQo. his flop and turn cbet percentages are both 100%. i.e. the range he gets to the river with, with this action, are exactly the same as his preflop range.

so, right off the bat we can see that if i check i lose this pot because i actually don't beat anything in his range. however, the river brought a 4th spade, so i bet, representing the flush (whenever you bluff you want to be telling a story like you've made a hand, whatever the hand you're trying to claim you've got is, that's what you're representing). from his point of view, if i've chased along with a hand like say KsJh or As9h, then i would play it exactly the way i've played this hand. i'd check and call flop, check and call turn, and then lead into the river. the story i am trying to tell on the river fits with everything i'd done earlier in the hand.

but before we make the bluff, we have to think about the hands he can have, and which can fold. first of all lets say that if he has a flush himself, regardless of how good it is, he'll call. secondly if he has a set, two pair, an overpair or top pair, he'll call. he might think he's beat or want to fold, but either the odds he's being laid or attachment to his pretty hand will make him call. everything else he'll fold.

by my count his entire range comprises 119 possible unique combinations of cards (ie AA there are 6 combinations, AsAc AsAh AsAd AcAh AcAd and AdAh. AK there are 16 combinations in a 52 card deck, of which 4 are suited and 12 are unsuited. in this case, because the Kh is in my hand, there are only 12 combinations available, 3 suited and 9 unsuited). of those 119 combinations, only 67 meet the requirements to call, and 52 will fold.

67 times in 119 i will lose 1BB, 52 times in 119 i will win 6BB:

(52/119 * 6) - (67/119 * 1)

= 2.62 - 0.56

= 2.06 BB

ta da!

taking this one step deeper, which is something to think about but maybe not impliment just yet. on the turn, I'm making my decision there not only seeing that i have 8 outs to a straight (2 of which are going to complete a flush, which i am taking note of) and three kings which are probably good too (again 1 of those makes the flush) but also that there are another 6 outs which are going to complete a flush. i'm already aware that seven of the possible 46 cards are going to give me the chance to bluff profitably. so if i was quantifying my turn decision mathematically, and assuming that if i valuebet or bluff the river he's calling 50% and folding 50%, it looks something like this:

total bricks when i'll fold: 29 (profit -1BB)
unmolested straights or top pair: 8 (profit +5BB 50% +6BB 50%)
bluffable cards: 9 (+5BB 50% -2BB 50%)

value of call = ((8/2)/46*5)+((8/2)/46*6)+((9/2)/46*5)-((9/2)/46*2)-(29/46*1)

= (4/46*5)+(4/46*6)+(4.5/46*5)-(4.5/46*2)-(29/46*1)

= 0.43+0.52+0.49-0.2-0.63

= 0.6 BB

i've simplified that tremendously, for instance, i'm treating the Ks and As as bluff cards rather than value cards. if he's going to call with say a pair of queens, then he's actually paying off my straight when the As hits rather than calling my bluff. if we were actually analysing a real hand for any reason other than to show how we think and how to do some basic poker math, i would be much tighter with this.

and again, we don't actually do the math at the table, because we've done it before long ago, and that together with experience make it possible to eyeball spots that are and are not +EV.

that's enough for now. someone check the math, i need to eat something.

Kc
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Old Oct 06, 2011, 6:33am   #13
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and again, we don't actually do the math at the table, because we've done it before long ago, and that together with experience make it possible to eyeball spots that are and are not +EV.
Kc
I think this is an important point (not the only one you made to be sure). When I was learning how to not completely suck at poker this was the one thing no one told me for a long time and it caused me a lot of headache. The math should already be known going in for a lot of situations so that you won't have to stress about it during the small amount of time you have to figure things out (especially online).
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Old Oct 06, 2011, 11:45pm   #14
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I was also wondering about tournaments. I'm trying to create a bankroll doing sit and gos, but I find it hard to survive as the blinds increase. Should I just be playing high cards and forget about flushes and straights?
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Old Oct 07, 2011, 12:45am   #15
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I was also wondering about tournaments. I'm trying to create a bankroll doing sit and gos, but I find it hard to survive as the blinds increase. Should I just be playing high cards and forget about flushes and straights?
well, sit&goes are a very specific, very constrained form of poker. you'll probably have an easier time building a bankroll playing ring games. but to answer your question, yeah kinda. sngs are more about staying alive and having a good shove/fold strategy when the blinds get big than they are about playing flops, or playing poker for that matter.

if you're playing 45 man/90man sngs search for some of the threads that ggnh started in the tournament forum around a year or so ago, shouldn't be too hard to find. if you're playing single table tournaments i've written on that a couple of times and can probably dig the posts out.

Kc
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Old Oct 07, 2011, 1:09am   #16
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I was also wondering about tournaments. I'm trying to create a bankroll doing sit and gos, but I find it hard to survive as the blinds increase. Should I just be playing high cards and forget about flushes and straights?
I was in tournament i really needed to win and I had about 30k in chips. I was doing well only playing good hands, and I get AJ with one person in front of me. So I raised 7k and he went all in with 20k. I thought I was going to win. He had 2 eights and the flop was Q J T, then another 8 hit the turn, and I lost everything.

Is there any way to avoid this late game?
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Old Oct 07, 2011, 1:11am   #17
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I was in tournament i really needed to win and I had about 30k in chips. I was doing well only playing good hands, and I get AJ with one person in front of me. So I raised 7k and he went all in with 20k. I thought I was going to win. He had 2 eights and the flop was Q J T, then another 8 hit the turn, and I lost everything.

Is there any way to avoid this late game?

what were the blinds how many started the mtt and how many were left?
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obviously, it's always my fault whenever anyone does anything stupid around here.

fucking morons every one of you. there isn't a man in this village that i wouldn't feed into an incinerator for no reason other than to get rid of them.

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Old Oct 07, 2011, 1:14am   #18
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I was in tournament i really needed to win
That statement right there is problematic. Tournaments require a lot of luck. You have to play thousands of them before you can start to see any type of a long-term edge show itself. Don't put all of your eggs in the basket of one tournament. It's a recipe for disaster.
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Old Oct 07, 2011, 1:43am   #19
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Is there any way to avoid this late game?
nope.

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Old Oct 07, 2011, 1:49am   #20
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Well did I at least make the right move in raising with AJ or should I have folded it with one opponent ahead of me?

What is mtt? The blinds were 750/1500 and I raised to 7k with AJ against the guy's 8s.

I'm not puttiing my eggs in any baskets but it'd be nice to get some return for all the time I invest in it. Either way. I guess I'll just play less hands or something, or just face card hands that are suited and hope I get lucky

If I can make it 90 minutes in I'm usually always having 7-10k chips, never more than that. Am I not aggressive or what?
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